District, Philly teachers' union 'optimistic' on progress toward contract

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The School District of Philadelphia and its teachers' union continue negotiations toward a new labor contract, amid reports of “substantial progress.”

A two-week contract extension expired at midnight Monday night, but talks between the district and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers are continuing.

Superintendent William Hite and PFT President Jerry Jordan each spoke of “substantial progress” in negotiations. Jordan, in an official statement, said talks on COVID-19 protections for teachers had been “fruitful” and that progress was being made on wages. 

Hite said Tuesday he was hopeful a deal could be reached.

“We’ve experienced substantial progress on those negotiations, and I remain optimistic that we’re going to get to a place where we have a contract.  Or at least an extension,” Hite said

Jordan last month said the union had offered a one-year extension with “modest” wage increases but that the district wanted the union to sign-on to its school reopening plan before negotiating pay raises. 

After 17 years of state control, this is the first contract the 13,000-member union is negotiating under the local school board. The PFT was not allowed to strike under the state-run School Reform Commission. The union has the authority to strike now, but none has been threatened.​